Teamwork benefits patients in health care


Health care today is a complex enterprise, best delivered by a team. And at the head of this team is a primary care physician, or PCP, who acts as head coach.

In this important role, PCPs maintain an open and collaborative relationship with their patients. They also coordinate their patients’ care, and manage internal communication with their patients’ other health care providers, including specialists, nurses and social workers.

Here is how this team-based approach works at UCLA Health.

Your primary care physician leads your team

As a patient, it is important for you to find a PCP you trust to oversee your medical care and advocate for your best interests. Your PCP should learn about your individual preferences, and develop a strategy to help you achieve your personal health goals.

If your PCP thinks you should make a lifestyle change, start a new medication or complete a preventive service, like getting a flu vaccine or a colon cancer screening, he or she should be able to clearly explain why they are making that recommendation, and how this change will help you reach your goals. Then, your PCP should encourage you to take the appropriate actions to support your long-term health.

They should also help coordinate your care

While your relationship with your PCP is incredibly important, so is his or her relationship with your other health care providers.

As the head coach of your health care team, your PCP should refer you to specialists, such as a cardiologist or gastroenterologist, when that outside expertise is required. When you are under the care of another health care professional, your PCP should remain updated on any new lab results, diagnoses or hospitalizations, so that he or she can adjust his or her strategy to keep you healthy.

Communication is key

An essential component of teamwork is open communication between everyone involved. You should develop a partnership with your PCP, and feel free to bring up any questions or concerns.

Providers and support staff should also stay in touch and share relevant clinical information so that they are on the same page and working towards the same goal. This is best achieved when everyone works for the same place—in this case, UCLA Health—and uses the same electronic health record system.

You can stay involved by signing up for the patient portal via the MyChart app or at

Find a primary care physician at


This story ran in the Fall 2018 issue of The Checkup, a UCLA Health community newsletter on how to live your healthiest life.